I’m one of those people who finds myself reading (and listening) to multiple books at the same time. I’m not sure why, but it has it’s pros and cons. Probably something I should think about changing. Currently, I’m working my way through Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers (for about 2 months now) and Ritchhart’s Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools (for about the same time).
One of the pros of reading multiple books at the same time is that you get to make connections between the ideas, even in books that focus on seemingly different areas of our field. For me, the connections often result in surfacing previous learning. Take for instance these two excerpts:
In many ways, our schools have emphasized the ‘software’ (the programs in schools) and the ‘hardware’ (buildings, resources) rather than the ‘Intel inside’ (the core attributes that make schools successful).
I believe that culture is the hidden tool for transforming our schools and offering our students the best learning possible. Traditionally, policymakers have focused on curriculum as the tool for transformation, naively assuming that teachers merely deliver curriculum to their students. Change the deliverable – Common Core, National Curriculum, International Baccalaureate Diploma – and you will have transformed education they assume. In reality, curriculum is something that is enacted with students. It plays out within the dynamics of the school and classroom culture. Thus culture is foundational. It will determine how any curriculum comes to life.
For me, the common message of both texts is that too often in education we define our gaps and never really get below the surface to address and enact the change. Hattie shares extensive research to help us understand what truly makes the difference to student learning. Ritchhart helps us understand the complexities of culture (through 8 forces) as the key to transforming our schools.
What have I (re)learned? Change is complex. Really complex. If the solution seems too easy, it probably isn’t an effective solution. We’re probably just scraping the surface and need to dig (and think) more deeply. Authors like Hattie and Ritchhart provide inspiration (and frameworks) for us to move through what can be the fog of leadership. Thinking about getting below the surface prompted me to revisit an old presentation I did at Educon 2.3 back in 2011 – Leadership: A Missing Piece – Reimaging School and District Leadership. Making connections across the various writers, thinkers and frameworks I find helps me in addressing the day-to-day challenges of my own leadership practice.
What (re)learning do you experience when you take part in professional reading – whether books or blogs/online articles?